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I have painted the above sky once before here. I don’t mind practicing from references I used previously. It’s nice to be able to see differences in a painting and to see if my skills have changed. I tried something new that I read about in a landscape book about skies and clouds. I used a sponge that I pre-wet and squeezed most of the water from to soften the top edges of the above clouds. I find it impossible to create interesting clouds without leaving hard edges everywhere. After my clouds had dried, I just took that sponge and lightly rubbed out the hard lines around the edges of the above clouds. I had to keep re-wetting and wringing the sponge to remove pigment that was lifted and to prevent smearing as I worked, but it really did the trick and fluffed up those upper edges. I also created that beam of light that bursts outward in the upper sky by dragging the sponge through the wet sky wash prior to it drying.  The water was created by sponging liquid frisket in the center area to save the bright white of the paper.  The lines of waves in the foreground were created by drawing them in with frisket, using a round brush.Once the frisket had dried, I washed on the colors for the water. This painting looks its best if viewed from a distance.

I don’t know if any of you have discovered that it is always best to get up and move to a distance of about ten feet and view your painting, in progress, from time to time. I find that a very useful practice for getting the value contrasts down. Most paintings are viewed from somewhere else in a room than right on top of them. I love going to an art museum and viewing a painting up close and then slowly backing up and see the whole thing come together. Several famous artists whose originals I’ve viewed, this way, and that really pack a punch when you back off them, are Van Gogh, Turner, Seurat and Monet. This never ceases to amaze me.


  1. I think this is beautiful, Leslie! Sometimes I find myself wondering what makes a famous artist, such as those you mentioned. I think most of the artists I follow are just as good, as sometimes better, than those artists.

    • Me too! That wondering. Many of the ones I listed, above, were impressionists and brought something new to the table. They also showed in high end French shows. I can’t remember the name of the show that was so visited, but know that they entered there. Must remember that Van Gogh only sold one painting while he was alive. So, I suppose he did not know how lauded he would become. What I like about their work is that they actually put themselves on their canvases and captured elements of their world in a way that was unique to them. Their work included all the elements of design and composition and I always feel as though I am seeing more of a subject when I view them. Thankyou for this insightful comment!

  2. The water takes on a pointillist effect at least that is how it appears on my screen. Could you do a close-up of that area?
    Perhaps sky meeting water? I’m very curious as to how painting with frisket achieves this affect. Well done, Leslie.

    • Silly me. Just clicked on painting and ta-da you answered my question. No need to do a close-up shot….it’s right there before my eyes…..just like that infuriating carton of milk on the top shelf of the fridge when a family member always asks while standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open and hollers, “Hey Mom, we got any milk?”

      Like I said….silly me!!

      • Frisket or masking fluid is fun to work with to create an effect or save small areas of white. However, the artist must remember that they may have to do more painting after removing it. I rarely use a sponge for frisket because it is a rush to the sink to rinse it off before it dries to rescue the sponge for future use, but this water demanded, either that, or speckle it all in by hand. Thank you Jots!

  3. Your sky is spectacular and your water glimmers. I’ve noticed that if I stand up and leave the room my paintings start to look much better. LOL! I like that you paint some of your pieces more than once to see if your style has changed. I can see a change from the last one to this one. I like the composition of the clouds better in this one.

    You really captured glowing light in this painting. I like the beam of light and can feel the sun trying to break through the clouds.

    • I am laughing about the leaving the room. Me too! Should have included this in the above discussion. Sometimes they even look better the following day when we give ourselves time to adjust to what we were not able to do like we wanted to. 🙂 You raise a good point there. I actually copied you about painting something twice. I remember you doing that with your mountain -like with water scene. I struggle with skies and clouds so try to work with them from time to time. I like this one better, also. Not so “edgey”. Still smiling about leaving the room. Thankyou for that! 🙂

  4. Great painting and great explanation as usual. Thanks! When I was with my oil painting I used to move to some steps from the canvas. It helped to me to get a new perspective. And I also change the point of view when I visit museums and art exhibitions. Mainly with impressionists but I usually find a different painting.

    • Thankyou, Nuno. These were impressionists I listed, here. I am most drawn to them and their works on canvas because it is so like I can really “see” what they were doing with the medium. The brushstokes are more active and “raw”. It is almost like they wanted to put something of the subject right there for us to experience. Turner’s storms, Van Gogh’s trees and grasses actually moving and bending with the wind, Monets intrinsic ability to master time of day in his work, and Seurat’s endless capabilities of value with the use of pointillistic technique. They all have dazzle and make me want to understand how to bring that to my paper.

      • Yes, you certainly got it in your painting! The light and how is it “distributed” in the landscape. It is like a “backlight photo”. And it turns more real when you don’t look it directly. Great!

  5. The warm and cool together create a wonderful friendly quality. Lovely, Leslie.

    • Thankyou for noticing that, Gretchen. I actually tried out a new color called Arctic Ice for the sky on this one. …and made my own grays with mixtures of aureolin, perm rose and the blues. So yeas, warm and cool to pull this one off. Great eye!

  6. Love it! The sky and water…. I do take the time while painting to stand back and take a look. It really helps.

    • I don’t know what it is, but sitting right on top of them looks so different than when I view them from a distance, anymore. I think it has a lot to do with the value contrasts and getting that so they will show up from across the room. I think I did a lot of midtone paintings when I first started, that couldn’t be seen across the room. Maybe that’s it. Thank you, Susan!

      • Some how my paintings seem very different from a distance. Perhaps its just me getting lost in my work while painting. Standing back has really helped, remembering to do that is another matter!

  7. This is absolutely beautiful.

    • Thank you, Suzy! …and thankyou, too, for coming by so I could see what you do on your art blog. Love those portraits!

  8. Phenomenal hues in the sky, the interesting shapes and the shimmerring water all put together gives it a wow factor! I also love to work from an older reference to see if I have improved, one way to see where I am going learning wise.Yes, studying from the distance helps too!

    • Thankyou, Padmaja. I wasn’t dedicated enough, the first years I painted. I began to realise that I was seeing reference material in new ways and they were inspiring me to try new techniques. That is when I began repeating some of the old ones. This is a never-ending journey, I believe. This thing we call art allows me to change and float with my interests. Never ceases to amaze me.

  9. Leslie! This is nice. I like the limited color schemes that comes with a sunset or a sunrise. I will agree that stepping back from your work, literally, is always a good thing. I work on the floor and on a table. I rarely use easels. I will say that once my table is full of paper scraps, glue, stacks of things I have been cutting and pasting, it gets quite overwhelming. I step back. I also step back to take a minute to breathe. To take in what I have created thus far, and think about where I want to go.

    It always helps. It’s a golden rule, now that you mention it and I have thought about it. You are such a teacher Leslie. lol

    • I rarely use an easel, opting to prop my board on a stack of coasters and pick it up to tilt it this way and that to allow some of the colors to mingle. I like that about stepping back to “breathe”. Maybe that is really what I am doing. We do that so much in life to get our balance back. Cool thought, Roni. Thankyou!

  10. excellent lighting Leslie. Beautiful!

  11. Beautiful! Amazing the way you fluffed up the clouds.

  12. Beautiful. The light in your painting is amazing!

  13. Nice sky, Leslie – I totally agree with the viewing from a distance. Also try a mirror for checking values!

    • Thankyou, Frank! I knew the mirror helped with seeing any distortion, but never thought about checking values in the mirror. Thankyou for that tip!

  14. Ah, this is amazing , Leslie!
    Love the colors, clouds and sun reflections ❤️
    Really beautiful❤️

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